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HomeLJS PodcastExperimenting with Your Improvisation (Practice Session)

Experimenting with Your Improvisation (Practice Session)

Welcome to episode 258 where today I’m having you sit in on a practice session where I explore a I-VI-ii-V chord progression, experimenting with whatever ideas come up in the moment. A lot of times we get wrapped up on playing the “right notes” that we forget that we have to experiment creatively to find the music that we really want to play. Developing a mindset of experimentation can help with that.

Listen to episode 258

You know a lot of us can get stuck in our jazz improv when we get over-analytical.  

We think a lot about exercises. We think a lot about certain concepts we may have learned that we want to apply over a jazz standard or a chord progression, and we forget that we’re actually just trying to make music. 

And for me, and something that I like to instill in all my students, implement into my courses and my programs, is the act of creation, of experimenting, finding the notes you like, finding the notes you don’t like, trying different things to see what works and what doesn’t work. 

So, in today’s episode, I’m going to do a little bit of a practice session just for myself over a popular chord progression.

I’m just going to try as many things as possible, and just work through the chord progression, try to see what ideas come up spontaneously, see what I like and see what I don’t like.

And I think this will help you understand how you can structure a practice session around this concept of experimentation and creation.

In this episode:

1. Why experimentation is important for better jazz improv

2. I practice a I-VI-ii-V progression, experimenting as much as possible

Important Links

1. Learn Jazz Live 2021 Virtual Summit

2. LJS Inner Circle Membership

Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."


  1. Great advice Brent. I have been stuck for years in theory overload – ‘memorizing’ scales, chordscale syllabus, drills, arpeggios, modes, riffs, etc . It’s only recently hat I have ‘broken away’ and stopped thinking while playing. There is NO time for intellectual gymnastics while improvising ! As you point out, gymnastics and experimenting is for the practice room (like athletes repeating ‘drills’) but when it’s show time, you have to “let go”, with only a few targets and constraints in mind. I look forward to the weekend Summit for more inspiration and liberation.


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